Using Skype technology to enhance spoken language skills: preliminary results from a pilot study in French, Japanese and Spanish at the University of Wollongong
This paper reports on an innovative implementation of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) via Skype technology in three language courses (Japanese, Spanish and French) at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Since students in Australian universities often face the problem of insufficient contact with native speakers of these three languages, the main aim of this study was designed to cross the geographical, linguistic and cultural boundaries via technology to bridge this gap. The present project involved students from intermediate/ advanced level in a one to one video-conferencing via Skype with their peer studying English at the overseas exchange university. The task was designed on Tandem Learning principle, which aims to benefit both parties equally. The first part of the paper will describe the background and context of the study. The second part will present the main features, design of the task and its integration into the project. Finally, the issues faced in the implementation process and solutions related to equipment and logistics will be discussed together with recommendations for future practice.